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Showing posts from December, 2007

2007 Top 5's

I've got a few minutes left of the old year. As I looked back over 2007, I decided to make a list of some of some highlights. With little time left, I'll just do my favorite books of the year and my favorite family moments.

Top 5 Books Read in 2007:

"Nerd" Book: Word Myths, by David Wilton
A true delight for all word nerds, this book seeks after the sources of many common word myths and then in "Myth Buster" fashion either proves the myth correct or debunks what we thought we knew. Absolutely fascinating. (No, people's last names were not changed at Ellis Island, regardless of what Aunt Lucy says. People did that on their own later to appear more "American.")

Writing Book: The Writer's Journey, by Christopher Vogler
Out of print but worth finding used, this book has turned my way of looking at plot and character upside down and inside out. In a good way. I think my husband must be tired of me piping up during a movie with, "This is the Or…

Mel's Wild Kingdom

Not long ago, my sister Mel began working on a collection of essays about her childhood. When I read them, laughing so hard I cried, my kids raced in to see what was wrong. Part of my enjoyment surely came from remembering the events she describes so vividly (and accurately!), but a lot of it is simply that Mel's a great writer.

Long-time readers here may recall that as a sixth grader (totally grown up, from where I stood in second grade), Mel began scribbling stories in notebooks. That's when the writing bug bit me, because emulating your big sister is really the coolest thing ever, right?

After Mel sent me a few of her pieces, I decided that the world needed to see one of these trips down memory lane, so with her permission, below is one of several that had me rolling on the floor.

It's longer than your average blog post, but it's well worth every word. Enjoy!


Lions and Tigers and Bears—But First, a Poodle

by Mel Henderson

I spent pretty much the entire fifth grade mad at …

The Finish Line

I made it! As of two days ago, I turned in my Manti temple manuscript. I had promised my editor he'd get it before Christmas. It was touch-and-go for a bit there, but it's done.

For those who have been following my progress, that means I reached all three of my personal writing goals for the last few months. First I had two word count goals that helped me get it drafted. Then I had a goal to get the first round of revisions done and the manuscript out to some of my personal readers. And finally, it was going over all of their suggestions and inputting them into the manuscript before turning it over to my editor before Christmas. (Wait. I think that makes more than three . . .)

I am hereby taking the next several days off to enjoy family and Christmas. I doubt I'll be near a computer much. I'll probably be reading, playing games, and taking a nap.

Sounds like heaven.

Merry Christmas to all!

Conference Time!

Yes, Christmas is just around the corner, but there's something else in the air as well.

Registration for the 5th Annual LDStorymakers Conference, March 21 & 22, is now available here. The conference is always such a shot in the arm for me. It's one of my favorite times of year. (Christmas in the spring!) We've simplified the registration process so you can pay online.

This year is shaping up to be our best conference ever. Among the highlights:
One of our keynote speakers is Timothy Travaglini, Senior Editor at G.P. Putnam's Sons (a division of Penguin Group, USA). For those of you who know Janette Rallison, he is her editor (known by her blog readers as the "bow-tied" one).The return of Boot Camp, the hugely popular hands-on critique workshop prior to the regular conference each day.A Publishers' panel, with representatives from all the major LDS publishing houses.Pitch sessions with both Covenant and Deseret BookManuscript reviews with Tim TavagliniCh…

Wisdom at 5 Years

Today's post is brought to you by the sweet little mind of my 5-year-old. She is a joy in so many ways, not the least of which is her determination to give the best hugs anywhere and "permanent" kisses that can't wash off.

I almost feel guilty for enjoying this stage with her so much, because when her three older siblings were this age, I was so busy taking care of everyone else that I don't think I had the luxury of reveling in the sweetness like I can with her as the youngest.

Some of her most recent nuggets:

1) Maybe they should add this one to Merriam-Webster:
"Some boys get their ears pierced because they’re dudes. Dudes wear earrings."

2) In her efforts at keeping the family's manners in check, she insists on hearing, "You're welcome," any time she says, "thank you."

I pour a glass of milk, and she says, "Thank you . . . " If Mom doesn't respond fast enough, it's, "I said thank you!"

3) A word escap…

The Truth about Signings

In my pre-publication days, if I ever imagined having a book signing, it included images like people actually wanting to buy my book and have me sign it. Maybe (if I was getting really deep into the fantasy) a line of people.

Of course, reality crashes down after publication, and you realize that unless your book is about teenage wizards or vampires, you won't have a long line. Or any line. And you'll be lucky to sell more than one that your mom came to buy to support you.

You do book signings anyway to show your publisher you're committed to promoting yourself. You chat with the employees and get to know them. You try to meet customers, and when they pay you the slightest attention, you try to encapsulate your book into about five seconds, because that's as long as they're going to give you before moving on.

And that's if you're lucky enough to get someone to make eye contact, because as people walk in the door, they instinctively look away from the lonely au…

Blame Josi

It wasn't that long ago that I had my 100th post and with it as many random things about me.

Now Josi has tagged me, and I'm to come up with ten more.

Let's see if I can think of something interesting that most readers don't know:

1) I've never skied in Utah, although I've lived here most of my life. I went skiing once in Finland with our youth group, but that's it. When it comes to winter sports, I'm a skating girl.

2) I always, always, always wear waterproof mascara and have never worn anything else. Ya never know when you're going to get something stuck in your eye, cry, or walk in the rain. Or through sprinklers. Or whatever.

3) The one Nintendo game I'm good at (or used to be) was Diddy Kong Racing. I used to play it with my son when he was younger as Mommy/son bonding time. I got pretty good. I pretty much suck at any other video games and have no desire to play them now anyway.

4) I learned to play chess by sitting on my dad's lap as he pla…

Calibrating the Rude-O-Meter

I've gotten used to people thinking I'm weird. Characters talk in my head, I find bizarre and otherwise useless facts interesting (and wonder how they could work into a story), and so forth.

But I had no idea I was abnormal in other ways. I continue to discover just how many areas this covers when my critique group calls me on stuff my characters do or think.

Things that apparently are NOT normal.

The biggest eye-opener was with the first book I brought to the group. Everyone kept saying how completely unlikeable the heroine was. She was rude and snotty and all kinds of things.

I was horrified as they pointed to bits of dialogue to prove their point—parts that I never in a million years intended to be rude or snotty. Parts I never realized could be interpreted that way.

Apparently my rude and snotty meters needed adjusting. I know I'm not the most socially-talented person on the planet, but I suddenly realized that yikes—I had probably said lots of things in the past that had b…

Horses Are Like Snow

There's something magical about watching snowflakes flutter to the ground, especially on a moonlit night where the stars twinkle magically behind the white flecks carpeting the ground and transforming the world. I love curling up with a mug of hot cocoa and watching the mesmerizing view as peace descends and all worries melt away.

But I hate dealing with snow. You know what I mean: the driving on slick roads, the shoveling, the wet boots, the cold hands, the lugging coats around and all that other miserable stuff.

If I could have a winter where I could just see it without dealing with it, I'd enjoy the season far more than I actually do.

With my current WIP, I've got a similar phenomenon when it comes to animals of the equine persuasion. Horses are beautiful creatures. I love watching them (or watching people ride them) as their muscles ripple and their manes and tails fly in the wind.

I do not enjoy dealing with horses, whether that's riding them or working with them in t…

Other Eyes

For one big reason, I feel as if I won the Utah writer lottery (assuming there would ever be such a thing!): I belong to one of the most remarkable critique groups on the planet.

It began with Lu Ann and Stephanni, who both lived in Spanish Fork and wanted to start up a group. Lu Ann pulled out her trusty directory from the League of Utah Writers and began calling around to writers in the area. This is a very scatter-shot way of creating a group, and by all odds, it shouldn't have worked as well as it did.

I remember distinctly when she called me. It was a July evening as I bathed my two children and was monstrously pregnant with my third, due at the end of the month. I was also finishing up my third year (and second pregnancy during that time) in the Young Womens presidency of my ward. I had been writing faithfully for some time, getting rejections and publishing a few articles, but I hadn't managed to get a book contract yet.

So when Lu Ann asked if I'd like to join, the an…

Thinking of Christmas

With December (and the first big snowfall of the year) here, my mind is turning to Christmas. This will be the third one in a row that I'll be an ocean and a continent apart from my parents, and it's making me sentimental.

As a child, I enjoyed Christmas more than any time of year. Now as a parent, I try to pass on some of the same traditions that made the season so special for me.

What I'm thinking about in particular right now:

1) Bing Crosby and company.
Bottom line, folks: It ain't Christmas if there isn't any Bing. My dad is of the Rat Pack generation, so I grew up listening to all the greats on his reel-to-reel tape set, almost exclusively during December. Our first married Christmas, my husband bought me a Bing Crosby Christmas CD, knowing that I'd need it to feel at home that year. I still have it, and we listen to it more than any other Christmas music.

I'm a bit like my older sister in that for years it was hard to listen to contemporary artists singin…